NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 14 – Over 24 Members of Parliament with disabilities in African countries under the auspices of the Commonwealth Parliamentarians Association are expected to converge in Nairobi to participate in a three-day conference aimed at improving awareness of disability issues.
Nominated MP Dennitah Ghati who is the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities (CPwD) Network, said that the inaugural forum shall facilitate activities and programmes to champion and increase representation of persons with disabilities in Commonwealth Parliaments.
“This being the first conference for Parliamentarians with Disabilities in the African Region of the Commonwealth, we are happy because for the first time, the country will experience and see MPs with disabilities talking about our issues, talking about issues to do with representations,” she said.
“Article 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities guarantees persons with disabilities participation in political and public life,” Ghati explained on Thursday.
Ghati became the second CPwD Chairperson after she was elected in September to replace Kevin Murphy who is the Speaker of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly in Canada.
The Opening Ceremony will be officiated by the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi who is also the CPA Africa Region Executive Committee Chairperson, who is also scheduled to give a keynote address.
The Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka is also expected to address the conference.
Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi who is also the Chairperson of the Kenya Disability Parliamentary Association and Nominated MP David Sankok noted that Kenya will use the forum to showcase the milestone people with disabilities have made in the enjoyment of political, social, economic and cultural rights.
“Let all political parties allow people with disabilities to participate in the election process, right from the registration of voters to the election to the elections. We shall not just be waiting for the elections, we also want to go out there, fight it out and get elected,” said the second MP who is also among the aspirants eyeing the Nairobi County Governor.
Sankok, on his part, listed the enactment of the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) Law and the recognition of Kenya Sign Language in the Constitution as the third National Language as among the achievements the country has set for the continent.
“There are also marks that are awarded in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government when they are doing performance contracts that are geared towards disabilities mainstreaming it is nowhere else in the world. In the training of architects and engineers, there is a unit on accessibility which does not exist anywhere else in the world. We a lot of first in the world so now we are hosting the first ever Afro-Commonwealth Parliamentarians,”he said.
Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu who is also the CPA Africa Region Representative noted that the Commonwealth ensures that issues of persons with disabilities are brought to the fore in parliamentary debates and in legislative matters.
“We feel honoured that we will be hosting this big conference and we believe that as a result of this conference, people with disabilities will feel they are represented. The whole idea is living no one behind in matters CPA,” Makali said.